John Sheridan stirred the pot in vigorous fashion, making six changes for today's visit of Torquay United.Two were due to injury, with Breckin and Talbot being replaced by Hall and Barry Conlon, a last-minute loan signing from Grimsby Town. Two more were made after loanees returned to their parent clubs: another loanee in Peterborough's Dominic Green, and Dan Gray took the places of Kieran Djalali and Mark Little. The last two were down to personal preference, with Tommy Lee replacing Mark Crossley and Alan Goodall coming in for Phil Picken. There were recalls to the bench for Paul Harsley and Martin Gritton, while the youth team skipper Craig Clay earned a substitute's place for the first time.
Conlon showed his skill after only four minutes by twisting and turning to work a crossing opportunity, but the ball flashed across the goalmouth, unattended. Green took a lucky bounce on 6 and advanced down the right win but was fouled; Morris's shot from a worked free kick was fumbled by the ex-Spireite triallist Poke, but the ball was safely cleared.
The Spireites had shown the most early on, but The Gulls came closest to scoring, on 13, when Rendell's header from a Wroe cross hit Lee's left hand post, dribbled along the line and out of play just beyond the opposite upright. Zebroski shot wide from the corner of the box as Torquay looked to sustain a threat.
The muddy conditions made precise first-time passing difficult, and Goodall intercepted one such effort on 24 to find Conlon. He worked a cross that Goodall met with his head, but Poke was able to hold comfortably. Goodall and Conlon combined in the build-up on 28 to set Green up, but his placed effort was saved.
A battle for the midfield took place throughout most of the half, and the Spireites' central pair of Allott and Niven were winning it as the half drew to a close. The busy Morris crossed on 41 for Conlon and his header forced Poke to dive to his right to save.
Halftime: 0-0. Attendance: 3215 (161 from Torquay.)
Chesterfield opened the second half with intent, winning a pair of corners, but Torquay rode this early turbulence to come back at their hosts. Niven was yellow-carded for a foul on Smith after 53; it was one of those "muddy sliding tackles" that start early and finish late, and Derek was perhaps a little unlucky to earn the ref's displeasure.
The Spireites continued to enjoy the upper hand but with composure at something of a premium, a first goal looked elusive. Everyone seemed to want to make the "killer" pass, while the forwards might have taken an extra touch on a pitch that was cutting up badly.
Danny Hall came on for Rob Page after 67 when the Welshman appeared to tweak his groin. Within a minute, Torquay had the ball in the net: Gray's effort at trapping the ball saw the thing squirm under his foot and Thompson capitalised, firing a shot across Lee and into the opposite corner. Thankfully, the flag went up for offside.
Dominic Green came more into the match as the second half progressed, getting round his fullback and crossing in "proper winger" mode. On 71 a Green cross found BarryCONLON near the edge of the box, and he turned and shot in one go, leaving Poke grasping at air as the ball squeezed inside his right-hand post.
Only a top-class save prevented the visitors from levelling only four minutes later. A back post ball was won by a Torquay head and it fell to Zebroski, whose flashing volley was tipped over in excellent style by Lee. Immediately, Torquay replaced Zebroski with Benyon, who was perhaps a pacy option against tiring legs in the home rearguard.
Torquay came close again on 79 when Hall cleared a Wroe shot off the line with Lee seemingly wrong-footed by a slight deflection. A measure of the Gulls' frustration was given by Hargreaves' booking for dissent when a strong Niven challenge was not given as a foul. Niven blocked Wroe's shot for a corner on 83 and O'Kane came on for Hargreaves with seven minutes left. By this point the visitors ran out of steam and the home side finished the stronger of the two. Boden was yellow-carded for playing on after the whistle and there was a late cameo for Martin Gritton, replacing the tiring Conlon one minute into injury time.